Adam Frank offers up some standard-issue NOMAic tripe tropes about how in fact there is no tension between science and religion, in particular because religion actually has nothing to do with knowing. Good to know.
Anyway, he says, "Spirituality, at its best, points us away from easy codifications when it shows us how to immerse ourselves in the simple, inescapable act of being."
Well, if it's simple and inescapable, why would we need to be shown how? Why would we have to immerse ourselves?
I know, I know - these claims aren't about knowledge. They're about, well, they're about...
Shorter John Cottingham: Would that all atheists had the humility to realize that the only thing that can save all of humankind from its moral inventions are the religious doctrines I prefer to believe in.
Shorter Tim Crane: Religious belief cannot be accounted for merely in
terms of the ignorance or irrationality of human beings; it must be
accounted for in terms of the wanton ignorance or irrationality of
Ron Rosenbaum makes it clear by his third sentence here that he simply does not know anything about his chosen subject matter:
[Agnosticism] is radical skepticism, doubt in the possibility of certainty, opposition to the unwarranted certainties that atheism and theism offer.
I count three incorrect definitional statements and one false presupposition - four errors, in a mere 20 words. And all stated with a self-certitude that, given Rosenbaum's overarching thesis, should count as a fifth. Impressive.
David B. Hart muses about a new book featuring fifty essays the "new" atheists. His credulity, so robust when it comes to matters of the Spirit World, has apparently met its match in the Bad Writing of Smug Humanists:
Simple probability, surely, would seem to dictate that a collection of essays by fifty fairly intelligent and zealous atheists would contain at least one logically compelling, deeply informed, morally profound, or conceptually arresting argument for not believing in God.
But why should that be, when no one believes in God based on arguments?
Anyway, reading Hart's piece, which is (simple probability being what it is) only mostly horrible,  was at least worth it qua set up for the withering riposte waged by Ars Artia in the first comment:
Any comment I could make about the content of this essay would necessarily be banal (one does not want to join the ranks of Daniel Dennett, et al). I can only acknowledge that the intellectual and spiritual power of David Hart steadies one's spine, so to speak, for the terrible things that already exist and may lie ahead. This essay provides hope. There are still men of faith, courage, and good will on earth. Can they prevail?
1. In fairness, I found his enthymematic riffing amusing, even edifying. One must take the sweet with the bitter.
The Greeks, in a way of life in which great perils and upheavals were always present, sought in knowledge and reflection a kind of security and ultimate refugium. We, in an incomparably more secure condition, have transferred this perilousness into knowledge and reflection, and we recover from it, and calm ourselves down, with our way of life.
Daniel Davies (a.k.a. d squared), usually so right about so much, has published two posts in one day on the two topics he consistently gets wrong.
The first is about the "new atheist" v. "accommodationist" debate. It's a tiresome business, made every bit as tiresome by the indiscriminate flailing of the accommodationists as by the ululating polemics of the new atheists. (See how I did that? I mentioned two opposing cohorts, and then positioned myself as socially and philosophically superior to both by using carefully chosen epithets, all without really dealing with the merits of the competing claims. (One can learn much from the accommodationists.))
DD apparently thinks that Dawkins is getting his comeuppance because, after all, his being called an "utter twat" by mean atheists is only a taste of his own medicine. Yes, finally - payback for all those times Dawkins called this religious figure or that an "utter twat." Whatever.*
The second, and far more egregiously wrong, post is about the nylon v. tortex guitar pick debate. DD blithely claims that "[n]ylon is for jazz, tortex is for rock." What utter tosh. Dunlop's Gator Grip picks are superior for both idioms.
*I realize that the real moral the authors of the linked-to pieces mean to draw is that there is justice in Dawkins' finally being abused by denizens of his own forum, which abuse heretofore had been heaped only upon Dawkins' critics. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to spot the gaping hole in this argument.
Functional RNA catalysts arise
only once RNA bases are specifically arranged into information-rich
sequences – that is, function arises after, not before, the information
problem has been solved. For this reason, invoking prebiotic natural
selection in an RNA World does not solve the problem of the origin of
genetic information; it merely presupposes a solution in the form of a
hypothetical, information-rich RNA molecule capable of copying itself.
Therefore, God did it.
Okay - the last sentence was mine. But the interpolation fairly captures the logic intended.
BTW, Thomas Nagel has a letter on the same page, who describes himself as having recommended Meyer's book "as a grateful reader." Good heavens.
What with the sun's being about to enter its red-giant phase, God realized it was time to get the End Times rolling. (He had always thought that the imminent, literal end of the solar system would be a reasonably clear sign to everyone. But anyway...)
First, then, the tribulation. The Antichrist induced war among all men. Then came pestilence. Famine. Earthquakes. Surviving populations fled to caves to escape the molten fragments of planet and moon and star hurtling toward earth. The wicked were slaughtered, rendering the seas boiling cauldrons of human blood and viscera. In short, just the kind of wholesale ghastliness one would expect from the penultimate stage of any lovingly plotted eschatology.
But then the Messiah returned to earth. And the dead were resurrected. And the sinners were forever banished from the cosmos. And the rest were invited to join God in Heaven, for all eternity.
Jonathan Benthall reviews five new books* that "reflect the withering away of the 'secularization
thesis' that prevailed in sociology thirty years ago." It's a good review, and it made me think about the common trope that religion is uniquely concerned with achieving a sense of connectedness with something greater or other than oneself.
The claims that are made about God bear no resemblance to real
knowledge. This becomes immediately apparent if you try adding details
to God’s CV: God is the eternal omnipotent benevolent omniscient
creator of the universe, and has blue eyes. [Mention of eye colour and] it suddenly becomes obvious that no one knows that, and by
implication, that no one knows anything else either.
The Christian revivalist who sermonizes most evenings near my train station (Hollywood and Highland) today proclaimed that we have only a week before comes the command to restore and build Jerusalem.** He says the same thing most every week.
I think the first time I heard him say it was last December.
So I'm thinking it must be a metaphorical week.
*I suppose a more accurate title would have been something like "The Last Throes of the Antetribulation." But it wouldn't have been as snappy. **I paraphrase.